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187 I mmediately I opened the packet. As Doltaire had said, the two books of poems I had lent Alixe were there, and between the pages of one lay a letter addressed to me. It was, indeed, a daring thing to make Doltaire her messenger. But she trusted to his habits of courtesy; he had no small meannesses—he was no spy or thief. Dear Robert (the letter ran): I know not if this will ever reach you, for I am about to try a perilous thing, even to make Monsieur Doltaire my letter-carrier. Bold as it is, I hope to bring it through safely. You must know that my mother now makes Monsieur Doltaire welcome to our home, for his great talents and persuasion have so worked upon her that she believes him not so black as he is painted. My father, too, is not unmoved by his amazing address and complaisance. I do not think he often cares to use his arts—he is too indolent; but with my father, my mother, and my sister he has set in motion all his resources. Robert, all Versailles is here. This Monsieur Doltaire speaks for it. I know not if every court in the world is the same, but if so, I am at heart no courtier; though I love the sparkle, the sharp play of wit and word, the very touch-and-go of weapons. I am in love with life, and I wish to Chapter XVI Be Saint or Imp 188 live to be old, very old, that I will have known it all, from helplessness to helplessness again, missing nothing, even though much be sad to feel and bear. Robert, I should have gone on many years, seeing little, knowing little, I think, if it had not been for you and for your troubles, which are mine, and for this love of ours, cherished in the midst of sorrows. Georgette is now as old as when I first came to love you, and you were thrown into the citadel, and yet, in feeling and experience, I am ten years older than she; and necessity has made me wiser. Ah, if necessity would but make me happy too, by giving you your liberty, that on these many miseries endured we might set up a sure home! I wonder if you think—if you think of that: a little home away from all these wars, aloof from vexing things. But there! all too plainly I am showing you my heart. Yet it is so good a comfort to speak on paper to you, in this silence here. Can you guess where is that here, Robert? It is not the Château St. Louis—no. It is not the manor. It is the château, dear Château Alixe—my father has called it that—on the island of Orleans. Three days ago I was sick at heart, tired of all the junketings and feastings, and I begged my mother to fetch me here, though it is yet but early spring, and snow is on the ground. First, you must know that this new château is built upon, and is joined to, the ruins of an old one, owned long years ago by the Baron of Beaugard, whose strange history you must learn some day, out of the papers we have found here. I begged my father not to tear the old portions of the manor down, but, using the first foundations, put up a house half castle and half manor. Pictures of the old manor were found, and so we have a place that is no patchwork, but a renewal. I made my father give me the old surviving part of the building for my own, and so it is. It is all set on high ground abutting on the water almost at the point where I am, and I have the river in my sight all day. Now, think yourself in the new building. You come out of a dining-hall, hung all about 189 with horns and weapons and shields and such bravery, go through a dark, narrow passage, and then down a step or two. You open a door, bright light breaks on your eyes, then two steps lower, and you are here with me. You might have gone outside the dining-hall upon a stone terrace , and so have come along to the deep window where I sit so often. You may think...


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